Interview 7th March 2008

Burton Mail (by Adrian Jenkins)
Heartbreak led to album success

"To be sitting here on top of the hill at this time is a great feeling," says Fish, the trill of his Caledonian tones echoing down the telephone.
The former Marillion frontman is relaxing in London pub with friends after returning from a trip to Poland to promote his new album, 13th Star.
Physically he may be at a low ebb, but there is no doubting his mental strength, a surprise given the turmoil which has gripped his life for much of the past year.
His renewed emotional fortitude is built - for the large part - on the rock that is his new compilation, a 10-track triumph over adversity.
"It's not a self-pitying or sad album - it's introspective," Fish says. "It's about relationships. It's about going out and finding love again."
13th Star's optimism, indeed the very fact it was born at all, are remarkable, given the crucible of torment in which it was forged.
Derek William Dick, for that is his real name - he acquired his 'Fish' monicker in Germany in 1978 - had proposed to the love of his life on St Valentine's Day last year.
Life seemed as harmonious as the lyrically brilliant songs which marked his career with Marillion, only to be wrecked by a dischordant finale 10 weeks before the wedding.
It was bad enough that it happened at all, but the cataclysmic coda to their relationship coincided with the first week of recording 13th Star.
As Fish says, a note of sadness in his voice, his beloved saw the album as a boulder between them rather than as the foundation stone for a new life.
The walkout left him with a stark choice: quit the studio and unravel in a whirlwind of loss, or tap into his grief to create a work of wonder. He chose - and achieved - the latter.
"It was extremely yin and yang and what I got out of it was the best album I've ever made," he says. "What's encapsulated in it is all the emotions. It could have been a very dark and angry album, but it's not. There's a lot of enlightenment in it."
Although creating the album channelled his emotions to positive effect, it failed to prove the act of catharsis that many might have expected.
This had to wait until a Christmas and New Year trip to Vietnam, a voyage of exploration and self-discovery undertaken with ‘a light rucksack and a lot of luggage'.
"I would not like to go through what I went through last year," Fish says. "It was like somebody pulling the pin on a hand grenade and putting it on my chest.
"What I've learned is to appreciate the present and not care too much about the past or the future. I'm very happy with where I am at the moment."
Dealing with the difficulties of the past also extend to his relationship with Marillion, the band he left in 1988 amid concerns that its management was disrupting the group's direction.
"There was a lot of animosity when I left - but not now," Fish says. "It was like a divorce. When you split up with your wife it might be okay for the first few weeks, but when the lawyers get involved ..."
But they have now settled their differences and are 'really good friends', their relationship based on mutual respect for each other's achievements.
Despite the problems that beset the late 1980s and which resulted in his career nadir of the mid-1990s and last year's slough of despond, Fish is now swimming in calmer waters.
"13th Star is going to be about for a long time", he says. It has an ageless vibe about it. You follow the star for as long as it leads you."
After the tour to promote his new album - Fish will play at Nottingham's Rescue Rooms on Tuesday, March 25 - and whatever fallout follows 13th Star, Mr Dick, who is 50 in April, will strive to get his acting career back on track, as well as completing a book deal.
Left hanging in the air is whether he will seek a new love, a prospect which seems remote at present, given the upset of last year.
"Maybe I'm just a person who's not designed to be in a relationship," he says, making clear that, for the moment at least, he is content to remain 'on top of the hill' alone.

 

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